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The Half Hour Population Problem for the Rays

A new look at a central Rays attendance problem: the travel time to the Trop.

We all know that the Trop isn't the easiest location to go and watch the Rays play. For many of us, it is easier to stay in the comfort of our own homes and watch the game.

Mike Lortz of made an interesting point on this topic yesterday, as posted over on FanGraphs, regarding the population within 30 minutes of  MLB stadiums and how it relates to attendance throughout the week. He takes the point further by dividing his look into weekday and weekend games.

It's important to note the drastic difference between the Rays' 30 minute population and the rest of the MLB. The second lowest city, Pittsburgh, has almost double the Rays' population within 30 minutes.

...the Rays averaged only 14,297 fans per game Monday through Thursday. This was the lowest average weekday attendance in Major League Baseball. On the weekends, however, the Rays averaged 21,692 fans per game. While still the lowest weekend average in Major League Baseball, the Rays saw a 51.7% average increase in attendance on the weekends.

There are many reasons why the Rays struggle with attendance. Many fans and residents point to the condition of the stadium, the demographics, and lack of mass transit as reason for not going. But one of the biggest and least-discussed reasons is that few people actually live near Tropicana Field.

Mike's article also references Maury Brown and his research at Biz of Baseball in 2011. In Maury's article, he has a chart that compares the Trop's 30 minute population to other potential cities' such as Raleigh, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Portland.

Take a look at both Mike's write up on the topic, and for more on the topic, we invite you to visit the in-depth work done at this site back in 2011 as part of the DRaysBay Stadium Proposal, which proposed a new Rays ballpark at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in downtown Tampa.